We gathered under the Unitarian banner on Sunday 11th November for coffee shop church, and after we had had our contemplative time we fitted in a short business meeting and a social.
One of the freedoms of being a Unitarian group is that we can hallow all that we do, without having to feature a fixed structure or fixed elements into our gatherings, rites and rituals. So today we included poetry and wordlessness, despite what was a rather noisy environment. We started, though, with a short poem by Mark Nepo http://www.marknepo.com that we had picked up from the blog of Danny Crosby, the Unitarian Minister serving Altrincham & Urmston in Cheshire http://danny-crosby.blogspot.com/ And then we sat in wordless togetherness for some minutes, absorbing what the poem had meant to us.
I keep looking for one more teacher, only to find that fish learn from water and birds learn from sky.
If you want to learn about the sea, it helps to be at sea.
If you want to learn about compassion, it helps to be in love.
If you want to learn about healing, it helps to know of suffering.
The strong live in the storm without worshipping the storm.
On this special day that marked one hundred years since the ceasefire on Armistice Day, 1918, we also read out and remembered the names of the six Ringwood Unitarians who had died in the First World War. Their names are painted onto the board still carefully looked after by the Ringwood Meeting House Association, which can be seen in the public exhibition at the Meeting House for the season of remembrance. The first Unitarian congregation in Ringwood sold the Meeting House in 1976 but we are the second congregation and their natural successors, so it is very fitting that we should remember their fallen.
It seems that one name on the Meeting House board does not currently appear on the town War Memorial and there is research afoot with the relatives to understand why. If a missing name has now been uncovered then it would be good to rectify that. How sad that one hundred years has passed since the start of that war yet still we are finding people who had partially been forgotten.
It was moving, too, to be able to observe the two minutes’ silence together, and with everyone else in the coffee shop, the people in the arcade outside, and in the supermarket opposite. We feel that it is not enough to remember the people who sacrificed everything for us. We also need to spot any early danger signs of a new slide into world conflict, and to do our part by calling them out and challenging people and nations to live in peace together.
We are now looking forward to our regular gathering in December on 9th December at our new time of 10 a.m. in the Ringwood Meeting House. After that we will next meet for a social after the Blue Christmas service we will be leading.
The Blue Christmas service will be a quiet contemplative service to make a safe space for those who do not find Christmas an easy time, for whatever reason. It is open to all, on Sunday 16th December at 4 p.m., also in the Meeting House.